After creating so much excitement and buzz about their new flagship, Astro finally pulled up the curtains on their flagship, The Astro Virtual 2 at an event attended by senior Government officials from the ministry of ICT, Local Authority, business sector and members of the media.
The acting minister of ICTPS Mrs Sithembiso Nyoni, who is the minister of small enterprises and medium enterprises officially Launched the flagship, the deputy minister of ICTPS Hon Win Mlambo, The Deputy minister of Home affairs Hon Ziyambi Ziyambi,Hon deputy minister lands and rural settlement Tendai Savanhu , the perm sec under the ICT and courier service engineer Sam Kundishora and the Harare mayor Mr Manyenyeni also witnessed the official launch.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Going straight behind the face of the event, the colourful launch and exquisite set up and jump straight into the product which pulled Hundreds at Royal Golf club in Harare last night.
The Astro Virtual 2 by no means is meant to contest at world stage with its founder Mr Munyaradzi Gwatidzo claiming that this is one of the best phone the world has ever had, well then it will simply boil down to how it stands against the top three world leading mobile phones which are The Samsung S5, the iPhone 5S and the recently launched Huawei Ascend p7.
In a nutshell the Astro V2 comes with Android operating system 4.3 (upgradable to 4.4) with full HD 5 inch gorilla screen Quad core processor , 16g internal storage buoyed by a 18mp rear camera plus a 5MP front camera all packed up in 6.5mm housing.
We will jump into the fundamentals, processor power, while many have argued much about the fact, it remains a reality that we all use less than 60% of the total power of this component on our phones however it does not make it an less important.
Samsung S5 which has a Qualcomm Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 has white washed all its competitors with Astro`s V2 landing the second position with a MTK quad core processor of 2.2ghz, Huawei comes third and the iPhone 5S ties the knot.
With a 64% market share, the Qualcomm processor has been a market leader while the MediaTek is now the world`s fastest emerging processor making it first HSPA+ smartphone supporting dual-SIM, a feature particularly important in emerging markets with customers who might want to use two SIM cards in the same handset simultaneously.
Storage basically is a component that will matter, the higher the storage any manufacture can offer, the likely the more expensive or valuable the phone will be. This has to be internal storage without the aid of external storage or capacity.
The Astro v2 lands in same category with all the leading smartphones on 16g storage capacity for your data we are not sure how much of the storage is actually usable outside the preinstalled operating system files.
Ram is the component that allows your processer to work on tasks with so much ease and it seems all the smartphones are currently settling for a 2G Random Access Memory chip.
On thickness Astro had claimed they have the world`s thinnest smartphone but this could only be so before the Huawei Ascend P6 which is touted the slimmest at 6.3mm. The newly launched Huawei P7 lands at 6.5mm which makes Astro and Huawei much more thinner.
Camera power is a very important aspect of all smartphones, the battle has now been shifted to just how many more pixels can you make. Apparently the Astro V2 and Samsung S5 lead the pack with their Sony type 18mp rear camera. The iPhone comes third while Huawei Ascend p7 ranks the last.
On the front camera, this is now the in thing for “selfies”. Huawei rises from the dust to have the best front camera at 8mp while Astro comes second with a 5mp, the Samsung S5 has only 2mp camera, while iPhone 5s with 1.2mps front camera sings the blues.
Picking on the looks just like any other latest phone except the reasonable ugly Samsung S5, redefining curves in a smart way, the Astro V2 comes coated with aluminium plus metal ring adding an expensive feel to the brand.
There has also been questions on design imitation with the iNew V3, a little known Chinese based smartphone maker, the Astro V2 however has beaten the iNew in all the important specs making it fall in the low end phones.
They have played around with the functionality buttons to make them easily accessible esp the power and volume button, their charging port has been coated too make it rigid against loose connections, a trend which really becomes a matter of choice amongst users.
Like all the leading brands, the Astro has also introduced a gorilla screen on their V2 but we are not sure which model of the gorilla screen are they using.
The higher frequency digital microphone is an outstanding innovation, this is a digital microphone which can sense the surrounding noise and blocks it giving higher priority to your sound which is closer to the mic, this is probably a first of its kind in the market to be offered for voice clarity in noisy environments.
They have also introduced a new speaker sound system by putting the speaker underneath the side of the phone instead of the back of the phone. For those who love their music crystal clear this is a major mover as the sound is not distorted when you play music from a flat surface.
On the killer point, Astro takes the lead on the price as the most affordable high end smartphone coming at $499 retail price.Unfortunately the recently launched Huawei p7 has not yet announced their prize while Apple and Samsung will cost a retail of $800-$1200.
We asked the CEO of Astro Mr Munyaradzi Gwatidzo how they could manage to pack so much hardware power at such a give-away prize, does it not mean that maybe Astro is somehow compromising on quality?
Mr Gwatidzo said the selling price of Astro Virtual 2 is the actual going prize for the device since they do not have middle man adding up on commissions like other international distributors hence forcing the price to be actually lower in other countries but landing in Zimbabwe very expensive.
Probably the Astro Virtual 2 and Huawei will lead in terms of warranty and back up support service since these actually have local support centres in Zimbabwe, It’s the actual availability of spares and support that invests confidence within any market which all local players should take advantage of.
The editor will announce the winner of the battle only after a real hands on approach with the newly launched gadget to pit the new Astro V2 to the test. For most users , they are spoilt for choice since the various facts have now all be laid.